Autobiographical Mobile: My painting diary – Day 16 and a half: The Caravan
Very occasionally, when I get home after work early enough, and when I am not totally exhausted from the daily grind of London living, I may take out my paintbrushes and indulge in a little evening painting. I find it difficult to dip in and out of my art work like this, not least because it always takes me a while to get back into the swing of painting after a break of even a few hours, but equally, taking the time out in a busy week for a little creativity can only be a good thing.
So my recent addition to my autobiographical mobile painting wasn’t really a day’s work as such, more of a half-day effort (or less). However what I painted was no less important for the quick few hours in which it was created. Following on from my weekend’s work on Enid the Golly, I went on to fill in that mysterious white box to the left of her: My family caravan.
I think it’s fair to say that caravan holidays aren’t perhaps as trendy as they once were, back in the 70s and 80s when British families were only really starting to dip their toes into the great brave new world that is foreign travel. While the tourist boom was only starting to implode across the globe, for many of us, like my family, the comforts of familiar surroundings, driven on wheels from one holiday destination to the next was both a more economic and convenient holiday solution. The holidays taken by my parents, sister and I in our caravan, largely in the likes of the New Forest and the Isle of Wight, were some of the best of my childhood. Simpler holidays, but imbued with so many rich, sensuous memories, such as evening walks through the sun-warmed english countryside, returning to the slightly dewy damp caravan to cosy beds made by my mother from the easily converted sofas, setting aside bunches of freshly picked wild flowers, and settling down to the sultry sounds of country wildlife and the faint smell of now smoldering barbeques from neighbouring caravans; the family meals around the collapsible table, eating off our plastic caravan crockery emblazoned with a merry strawberry design; and those occasional days when, faced with grizzly British summer rain outside, we all gathered in the caravan to watch the likes of Wimbledon on the crackling old TV.
But beyond the holidays, the caravan was also hugely important to my academic progression. In term times, we used to park the caravan on our driveway, and in it I would sit, studying away for hours at a time, turning the caravan into my makeshift study, providing me with the perfect solitude in which to concentrate. I credit that caravan as being one of the reasons why I was able to do so well at school.
Sadly, the caravan is gone now, sold some years ago when we used it no longer, when a house in Spain took over our affections, and the physical strain intrinsic in camping became too much for my parents. But that caravan, its sights, its smells, is still so familiar to me, so inextricably a part of the fabric of my childhood that this biographical painting would not be complete without it.
So I give you, our family caravan.
Until next time.
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